Catalogue description War Office: Geographical Section General Staff: War of 1914-1918: West, South-West and East Africa Campaign: Maps

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Details of WO 300
Reference: WO 300
Title: War Office: Geographical Section General Staff: War of 1914-1918: West, South-West and East Africa Campaign: Maps

Maps relevant to campaigns against German forces centred on their colonies in west, south-west and east Africa from both British and German series. They include maps used by the Official Historians. This series includes mapping relevant to the campaigns against the in Africa.

Date: 1875-1938
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

War Office, Directorate of Military Operations and Intelligence, Geographical Section, 1922-1939

War Office, Directorate of Military Operations, Geographical Section General Staff, 1908-1922

War Office, Directorate of Military Operations, Topographical Section, 1904-1908

War Office, Intelligence Branch, 1873-1888

War Office, Military Intelligence and Mobilization Department, Topographical Section, 1901-1904

War Office, Military Intelligence Division, Topographical Section, 1888-1901

Physical description: 441 flat sheet(s)
Restrictions on use: Open without restriction.
Publication note:

OFFICIAL HISTORIES were produced for the campaigns in west and east Africa but not for South West Africa, where the campaign lasted only from 1914 to July 1915:- West Africa Official History of the Great War: Military Operations: Togoland and the Cameroons 1914-1916 by Brig-General F J Moberly CB CSI DSO psc published by HMSO, London 1931 East Africa Official History of the Great War: Military Operations: East Africa: Vol I: August 1914 to September 1916 by Lieut-Colonel Charles Hordern (late Royal Engineers and General Staff) published by HMSO, London 1941 The author died before completing volume II but his papers and the drafts on which he was working are in the Public Record Office in CAB 44, pieces 4 to 10. Volume I has been reprinted as a joint venture between the Imperial War Musuem and the Battery Press of Nashville, USA, and was published as ISBN 0-89839-158-X in 1990. As volume I was not published until 1941 and volume II was abandoned after that, many of the maps in the series used by the Official Historians were later ex-stock editions than those published in or before 1914-1918.

Unpublished finding aids:

Indexes to maps pieces 1-12; contents list, and an explanation of abbreviations are in the standard list set.

Administrative / biographical background:

By 1914 the mapping of Africa was still in the primitive stage of maps compiled from travellers' tales and reconnaissance mapping required for colonial administration, supplemented by slivers of detailed topographic mapping of inter-colonial boundaries produced during the great powers' carve-up of the continent. The German Colonial Ministry had reasonably good medium scale (1:100 000 to 1:300 000) series of its territories and these were reproduced by the War Office. The highly mobile war in difficult terrain resulted in little new rigorous mapping produced by Allied survey personnel. For many purposes, maps little more than time-and-distance diagrams were used. Since 1906 the Colonial Survey Committee had established programmes for standard scale mapping of Africa as a whole, the early results of which, particularly at the smaller scales of 1:1 000 000 and 1:2 000 000 published by Geographical Section General Staff, War Office, were used for the strategic overview.

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